There's a new effort by U.S. Muslims to counter the anti-Jihad ad campaign sponsored by Pamela Gellar and the American Freedom Defense Initiative that had posters placed on NYC MTA subway stops, and buses and trains in several cities across the country including New York. The message on the posters was:
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man”
Geller created quite a stir but has hopes to continue with the campaign, next time adding other "groups" that are adversely affected by radical Islam, including Christian Copts, Hindus, Baha'is, Thailand and Nigerian Christians.
In the meantime, enter the "My Jihad" campaign. Ahmed Rehab, the founder of the "educational" campaign, also happens to be the executive director of the Chicago CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations).
Rehab says of his efforts:
“Jihad is a term that has unfortunately been widely misrepresented by the actions of Muslim extremists first and foremost, and by attempts at public indoctrination coming from Islamophobes who claim that the minority extremists are right and the majority of Muslims are wrong." “The MyJihad campaign is about reclaiming Jihad from the Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists who ironically, but not surprisingly, see eye to eye on Jihad.”Essentially what they are trying to do is persuade us that the true meaning of jihad is personal struggle. From their website MyJihad.org:
Jihad is a central tenet of the Islamic creed which means “struggling in the way of God“. The way of God, being goodness, justice, passion, compassion, etc (not forcible conversion as wrongly claimed by some).
As Muslims, we are taught to put forth a concerted and noble effort against injustice, hate, misunderstanding, war, violence, poverty, hunger, abuse or whatever challenge big or small we face in daily life, with the purpose of getting to a better place.
While the struggle for justice may be physical (as a last resort, and even then it ought to be a just struggle that goes above and beyond observing the universal code of conduct and rules of engagement), the greatest Jihad is that of the self, a fact often ignored by, or unknown to, many. In more than one sense, Jihad is more about peace and education than anything else. The highest form of scholarly pursuit (the complex, tiring but important scholarly work of Muslims to decipher their faith and its relation to the world around them) is referred to in Islam as ijtehad which by no coincidence is derived from the same root word as Jihad (jahada meaning “to exert effort.”)
Jihad is a personal commitment to service, patience, determination, and taking the higher road, as such, it tasks us with confronting our own weaknesses, vices, and shortcomings; it is about taking personal responsibility.
All very admirable, if there weren't so many who do see jihad as Holy War. There are enough Muslims out there who believe jihad is more than personal struggle- including the Palestinians. And had they left out the whole 'blame the Islamophobes too' for messing with their 'jihad' the idea might not have been so offensive. Don't blame us non-Muslims for associating jihad with terrorism, the radicals have done a pretty good job of doing that themselves.
The posters that are now on Chicago city buses include:
“MyJihad is to build friendships across the aisle,” says one ad showing an African American man leaning on the shoulder of a Jewish friend.They're hoping to raise enough money to get those ads on trains and buses in Dallas, Cleveland, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Francisco and Seattle, some of the same cities that Geller's anti-Jihad ads were running. Their ultimate goal is to expand globally to buses in London, Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto.
"MyJihad is to march on despite losing my son," says another ad, featuring a portrait of a mother with her three remaining children.
“MyJihad is to not judge people by their cover,” says a third, framed by two women in headscarves.
They've also created a FaceBook page and have asked Muslims to tweet about their jihad using the hash tag #MyJihad.
It's going to take a lot more than a few posters on buses to persuade those of us who have a problem with a faith that seems hellbent on staying firmly rooted in the 7th century that the religion is not a threat to our Western way of life. I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly nice people who you probably wouldn't even know were Muslim, those I have no problem with. It's the ones who want Shariah law, who want us to change our laws, our rules and regulations to conform to their religious standards, those I have a problem with.